Apr 14, 2016

The Secret Fire (The Alchemist Chronicles 1)

The Secret Fire (The Alchemist Chronicles 1) cover

  by C.J. DAUGHERTY  

book review rating 2.5 out of 5

French teen Sacha Winters can't die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying...continue at Goodreads

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“Despite herself, Taylor couldn't help noticing that when Sacha smiled he was really good looking. His cheeks were ridiculous.”

Well, despite myself, I couldn’t help noticing that this description was a bit much, and came off more humorous than heated. But, I’m also not thirteen. The Secret Fire, by C.J. Daugherty, is the first installment in The Alchemist Chronicles. It was an admirable fantasy attempt that was a bit light in character and plot developments.

Perhaps it is because The Secret Fire was originally written in French, and meanings tend to be lost in translation (despite being translated by Ms. Daugherty, herself), but I thought the main characters lack qualities of authenticity and believability. Taylor is quite an impressive character—if you enjoy straight-A students, top volunteer of the year, magically gifted, absolutely beautiful (but of course she doesn’t know that she is), and such perfections. Sasha is more enjoyable to read because he’s flawed, charming, and cursed to die by his 18th birthday, which relatively, made him more interesting and his character a bit more complex—if you can see past his ridiculous cheeks. *wink*

The romance between Taylor and Sacha was far from compelling, with Taylor quickly loosing interest in her high school boyfriend of almost 4 years for Sacha whom she’s barely known over a chat line. Her attraction was explained as, “He looked dangerous. And that danger had a magnetic force.” It’s unfortunate that young love was made out to be so ephemeral.

It was really disappointing and even strange that the antagonist—this dark practitioner—doesn’t actually show up. There are hints of him here and there, but nothing concrete. Surely, I could infer that there was a great evil force at work, but I would have really enjoyed the dark practitioner folded more generously into the story. It was his minions—the Bringers—that provided the main conflict. I understand this is a series, but I still felt that this was a critical piece missing.

Despite everything, I thought that the paranormal concepts were interesting. The magic and intrigue that surrounds Taylor’s alchemical power and Sacha’s deadly curse, and the action-packed adventure in the last few chapters concluded this first installment fairly well, carving the way for a potentially heftier sequel.

{ I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, especially to the author and publisher, for kindly giving me an opportunity to review this title. }